Get Your Kids to Clean

With a family of seven comes a lot of dust, dirt and messes! We have a baby at our house now and this mamma’s workload seems overwhelming at times. The laundry piles up until someone says, “Mom! I’m out of underwear!” The dishes are never ending, the floors need swept constantly, and don’t even get me started on the dust! 

Growing up, Saturday meant family cleaning day. We would divide up the chores and get to work. Dad would mow the lawn, Mom would mop the kitchen, and my sister and I would vacuum and dust. It wasn’t hard work and didn’t take long. Occasionally my sister and I would argue about who got to clean the mirrors or who had to dust around the family portrait display, but other than that, I have very happy memories of those cleaning days. I especially loved crawling over the dining room chairs that Mom had moved to the living room while she mopped. And now, with a family of my own, I see why my mom did family cleaning days.

“We all live here,” I say. “It’s our responsibility as a family to work together to keep our home clean.”

My hope is to use times like a family cleaning to build family unity as well as teach responsibility. However, I do realize that cleaning isn’t really fun…but it can be, and here’s how I try to make it fun:


  1. Chore jar or checklist
  2. Cleaning supplies
  3. Timer
  4. Reward 

Chore jar or Checklist: 

Write out each chore that you want completed. Make sure that the chores are age-appropriate. I left out the chores I knew the kids couldn’t really do yet and decided to do those myself. Either write each chore on paper for the kids to choose at random and put them in a container, or make a family checklist. Place the chore jar or list out where each family member can access it easily to grab a chore or check one off of the list.

Cleaning Supplies:

Make sure to gather your supplies and set them somewhere where everyone who will need them can easily and quickly find them. You may even want to label them or group them into categories like bathroom, kitchen, etc. Have plenty of paper towel or cloths and things that might be needed for multiple chores. This will help alleviate any arguments over supplies that might arise.

Time Limit:

Encourage the family to complete as many chores as they can within a set time. That way, there’s motivation to work efficiently and not to spend the entire day cleaning. You can use a timer or set a specific end time. Young children will generally do better with short bursts of time, so setting a timer for 5 to 10-minute increments might work better.


This is not necessary but may help motivate kids who aren’t fond of the whole cleaning idea. I know my 9-yr old isn’t especially thrilled, but he does like candy 🙂 You decide what type of reward works best for your family. You could reward per chore with a treat or maybe give out tokens or coins that they can use to buy their reward from “Mom’s Store” (stocked with things you’ve purchased ahead of time and assigned a price). Another idea is to reward everyone who cooperated with a family treat, like a trip to the movies or out for ice cream or a game night once all the chores are done.  I give out a piece of candy per point earned (see point system below) and a special family activity if we finish before our allotted time. Since we do our cleaning days just once a month, I can easily budget for small rewards.

Guidelines/Ideas for Cleaning Day Rules:

Points System for rewards:

  • Divide into teams (A team can be an individual or more than one person. Older kids do well on their own, while younger kids may need a teammate.)
  • You must do the chore you draw from the chore jar, unless the supplies needed for the chore are in use by another team at that time.
  • You may trade a chore with another team, if both parties agree to do so.
  • Every completed chore earns 1 point
  • 1 point will be taken away for: complaining, each unfinished chore
  • 1 point will be added for: a positive attitude, helping someone, working extra hard

How long will it take? Decide if you will work until all the chores are done or use a timer or specific time to finish by. Our rule is to see if we can complete all the chores within 2 hours. If we finish before the 2 hours are up, there’s a separate reward (last time, we bought ice cream and played video games together).

How can we check work? Chose a monitor who can check to see that the chores are actually done well and not rushed through poorly. I’m the monitor in our family. I explain how to do chores that may be new and go around afterwards to see that all the chores the kids said they did are really done. I have had to finish chores, which ends in removing a point from the team who had that chore. However, I am pretty lenient on how thoroughly clean something is. I understand that they are kids and only require that they do their best.

Family cleaning days can be weekly or monthly. I do them monthly, mostly because we all have regular chores that we do. On family cleaning days, while the rest of the family work on the chores I normally do, it’s an opportunity for me to tackle those that get neglected…uh like cleaning the baseboards! A good top-to-bottom house cleaning for us is only needed about once a month, and it’s a huge help to me. With everyone working together, we can get done in a couple of hours what it would take me days to do on my own.

Incorporate the team-building idea of family cleaning days into your family routine and see how it goes!

Wishing you a happy and clean home! And as always, thanks for stopping by.


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